Fearfully awaited came the day that so many had not believed was possible, the consequence of a result that had put millions in shock and doubt. The day came on which all the ifs and never will be became empty promises. A day that turned the liberal’s nightmare into reality. Friday, the 20th of January, was the day Donald Trump became the 45th President of the United States of America.
Washington DC was filled with red ‘Make America Great Again’ hats, underneath happy smiling faces. They were curious, excited and proud, fighting over the best seats or spots to stand to see the new incoming president. But Trump supporters were not the only ones on the streets and while protests were mostly peaceful, about 200 people were arrested, two shop windows were smashed and a Limousine was set on fire as the police proceeded with pepper spray.
Armed with a Black Lives Matter sign, following the path to and along the Lincoln Memorial, to Capitol Hill where the president was sworn in, I got a lot of love from some by passers.
Their chants made me hopeful, although never took away my worries.
How do you feel passing a grown man, who is rushing to leave the scene in tears, where Mr Trump is becoming his president? How do you feel, when you see a woman clenching onto the fence, her chants of protest turned into cries of distress and exasperation? I felt it on my own body, as a Trump supporter squeezed my shoulder from behind, bringing to my attention, what I had already noticed long before him. “That Secret Service Officer just walked passed us twice, and all he ever looked at was you!”, the man said, giggling. My blood froze under my brown skin. And I saw myself in their eyes, a young black woman with a big afro and a Black Lives Matter sign pressed against the fence’s bars in front of her. “Perhaps he thinks you are a threat”, the Trump supporter said, and squeezed my arm too tightly. I could see his grin, although I didn’t dare look at him, ‘So to you young women look like a threat?’, I didn’t dare to ask as I remained silent.
The following morning, women rose.
The New York Times reported that the Women’s March on Washington had three times as many people attending then President Trump’s inauguration.
DC’s centre was overcrowded and in high spirits, also around the world protesters stood against Trump. Sophie Cruz, a six-year-old girl and daughter of undocumented parents, held on of the best speeches inspiring hope, love and strength in her audience, “We are here together making a chain of love to protect our families (…) Let us fight with love, faith and courage so that our families will not be destroyed.”
Linda Sarsour, of the Arab American Association shared her perspective; “The very thing that you are outraged by during this election season, the Muslim registry programme, the banning of the Muslims, the dehumanisation of the community, has been our reality for the past 15 years.”
Actress Janelle Monáel called out against the abuse of power and mobilized in honour of victims of police brutality like Eric Garner, Michael Brown, Trevor Martin, Sandra Bland, Tamir Rice, Aiyana Stanley-Jones and all the other lives lost.
So, maybe there is hope.